What's the buzz?

Updated: 2012-04-28 09:38

By Jean Lee (China Daily)

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What's the buzz?

In South Australia, they take great pride in their produce - like the award-winning honey at the bee farm run by Tim and Jude Crowe. Buzz Honey is located at Kanmantoo, in the Adelaide Hills, and they can wax poetic about their honey.

"Imagine thousands of flowering orange trees singing with nectar; it's Spring time in the heart of the Riverland. Their sweet delicate fragrance fills the air. The pure honey harvested from these trees is heady stuff.

"Another place and another time and the 500-year-old River Red Gum and Blue Gum Trees are dripping with nectar from every flower. Waves of gorgeous green hills studded with these ancient trees are all that you can see for miles. The hives will fill up so fast with this choice eucalyptus honey we can hardly keep up."

As part of Tasting Australia, the country's premier long-running fiesta of food and wine that is now going on in Adelaide, the media were treated to a day out in the Adelaide Hills, sampling these honeys.

We were split into two groups to be suited up in bee protective gear to prevent any accidental stings. Tim Crowe then led us to the hives, showing us the framed honeycombs where the bees were unloading pollen from their legs while others were having lunch, drinking from the combs.

The much larger queen is hidden deep in the hives, and to keep her from flying off, the slits that provide access to the hives are not wide enough for her to pass through from the lower box. Each hive has only one queen bee and her sole job is to produce grubs that will mature into either drones or worker bees.

She is mated in flight by the male drones and when ready, she will be laying about 2,000 eggs per day. Once she begins laying, she is fed nectar by worker bees and kept in the hive all the time.

As for the drones, they die once their duty is done.

In the practical world of bees, it's all about function. Even the pampered queen is not spared. As soon as she cannot lay anymore eggs - either because of stress, or a hard winter during which nectar is scarce, the worker bees will evict her from the hive, or chew off her wings and have her for dinner, leaving the head.

Strange that this creature of such cannibalism can produce such exquisite food.

Each hive must have a sustainable number of bees so that there is adequate nectar for gathering as well as to feed the bees in the hive and for the queen bee to produce more grubs. There are about 80,000 bees per hive.

Buzz Honey queens are purchased from a farm in Queensland, and they travel in a box with several "escorts". As soon as they arrive, the bees must be fed with water. Bee hives must also be put near a water source, as each load of bees, with about 100 hives, requires about 300 liters of water a day.

Relocating bee hives must be done at night, in the dark, so the bees stay quiet in the hives. Hives are relocated at selected sites, to be near the flowering trees or meadows, so each honey has its own particular characteristics.

At Buzz Honey, varieties include Orange Blossoms, Blue Gum, Leatherwood, Meadow Honey and specialty honey such as the Bush Mallee, the chosen honey for the creme brulee served at the Adelaide Hilton Brasserie restaurant - the connoisseur's choice.


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